As­traZeneca un­veils its brand new open-of­fice cen­ter in the Bay Area. Do you love it, or hate it?

The Bay Area biotech hub is home to a gleam­ing string of mod­ern-day trib­utes to the open-of­fice space. And now As­traZeneca has joined the cut­ting-edge set with its own HOK-de­signed fa­cil­i­ty in South San Fran­cis­co.

Af­ter build­ing up a port­fo­lio of re­al es­tate in the San Fran­cis­co area through ac­qui­si­tions and growth, As­traZeneca has brought to­geth­er staffers from Ac­er­ta Phar­ma, Med­Im­mune, Pearl Ther­a­peu­tics and As­traZeneca’s TIDE — Tech­nol­o­gy In­no­va­tion & De­liv­ery Ex­cel­lence — at the pop­u­lar Cove at Oys­ter Point. Some of its neigh­bors in­clude De­nali, which has its own open-space floor and plans to move to a larg­er space near­by, as well as the stealthy Cal­i­co. And they are all just around the cor­ner from Genen­tech, which has helped pop­u­late the lo­cal hub with its vet­er­an re­searchers and ex­ecs.

Bahi­ja Jal­lal

As­traZeneca has been build­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing quite a bit of space since Pas­cal So­ri­ot took the helm 5 years ago. He’s still wait­ing for the open­ing of the new cam­pus HQ in Cam­bridge, UK, where he’s been push­ing to re­make the com­pa­ny in­to a mod­ern-age phar­ma gi­ant that can grow rev­enue from new prod­ucts push­ing through the pipeline.

Build­ing of­fices, though, can be more cer­tain than build­ing new drugs. And the com­pa­ny is a clear devo­tee to the idea that a staff that works shoul­der to shoul­der in shared spaces can be more pro­duc­tive. The new fa­cil­i­ty boasts of open win­dows to shine a light on the lab, along with or­gan­ic food in the cafe­te­ria and an on-cam­pus gym for em­ploy­ees.

Med­Im­mune chief Bahi­ja Jal­lal not­ed in a state­ment: 

The open­ing of our new South San Fran­cis­co site brings to­geth­er the best of both worlds — a shared dri­ve across our em­ploy­ee base to ad­vance great sci­ence and bring new treat­ments to pa­tients, while pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­ni­ty to tap in­to the Bay Area’s trans­for­ma­tive biotech ecosys­tem, help­ing to fos­ter great progress in­ter­nal­ly and ex­ter­nal­ly.

Some­times, though, open of­fices tend to be more pop­u­lar with top ex­ecs than the rank and file, when you can have a qui­et chat about it in the el­e­va­tor. So we’re run­ning a snap poll on the sub­ject.

Open of­fice spaces: Love them or hate them? (Click here for a di­rect link to the sur­vey.)

We’ll give you the re­sults to­mor­row.


Im­age: As­traZeneca site at South San Fran­cis­co. AS­TRAZENECA

Hal Barron, GSK

Break­ing the death spi­ral: Hal Bar­ron talks about trans­form­ing the mori­bund R&D cul­ture at GSK in a crit­i­cal year for the late-stage pipeline

Just ahead of GlaxoSmithKline’s Q2 update on Wednesday, science chief Hal Barron is making the rounds to talk up the pharma giant’s late-stage strategy as the top execs continue to woo back a deeply skeptical investor group while pushing through a whole new R&D culture.

And that’s not easy, Barron is quick to note. He told the Financial Times:

I think that culture, to some extent, is as hard, in fact even harder, than doing the science.

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Some Big Phar­mas stepped up their game on da­ta trans­paren­cy — but which flunked the test?

The nonprofit Bioethics International has come out with their latest scorecard on data transparency among the big biopharmas in the industry — flagging a few standouts while spotlighting some laggards who are continuing to underperform.

Now in its third year, the nonprofit created a new set of standards with Yale School of Medicine and Stanford Law School to evaluate the track record on trial registration, results reporting, publication and data-sharing practice.

Busy Gilead crew throws strug­gling biotech a life­line, with some cash up­front and hun­dreds of mil­lions in biobucks for HIV deal

Durect $DRRX got a badly needed shot in the arm Monday morning as Gilead’s busy BD team lined up access to its extended-release platform tech for HIV and hepatitis B.

Gilead, a leader in the HIV sector, is paying a modest $25 million in cash for the right to jump on the platform at Durect, which has been using its technology to come up with an extended-release version of bupivacaine. The FDA rejected that in 2014, but Durect has been working on a comeback.

In­tec blitzed by PhI­II flop as lead pro­gram fails to beat Mer­ck­'s stan­dard com­bo for Parkin­son’s

Intec Pharma’s $NTEC lead drug slammed into a brick wall Monday morning. The small-cap Israeli biotech reported that its lead program — coming off a platform designed to produce a safer, more effective oral drug for Parkinson’s — failed the Phase III at the primary endpoint.

Researchers at Intec, which has already seen its share price collapse over the past few months, says that its Accordion Pill-Carbidopa/Levodopa failed to prove superior to Sinemet in reducing daily ‘off’ time. 

Cel­gene racks up third Ote­zla ap­proval, heat­ing up talks about who Bris­tol-My­ers will sell to

Whoever is taking Otezla off Bristol-Myers Squibb’s hands will have one more revenue stream to boast.

The drug — a rising star in Celgene’s pipeline that generated global sales of $1.6 billion last year — is now OK’d to treat oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s disease, a common symptom for a rare inflammatory disorder. This marks the third FDA approval for the PDE4 inhibitor since 2014, when it was greenlighted for plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

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Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Vlad Coric (Biohaven)

In an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for in­vestors, FDA slaps down Bio­haven’s re­vised ver­sion of an old ALS drug

Biohaven is at risk of making a habit of disappointing its investors.

Late Friday the biotech $BHVN reported that the FDA had rejected its application for riluzole, an old drug that they had made over into a sublingual formulation that dissolves under the tongue. According to Biohaven, the FDA had a problem with the active ingredient used in a bioequivalence study back in 2017, which they got from the Canadian drugmaker Apotex.

Apotex, though, has been a disaster ground. The manufacturer voluntarily yanked the ANDAs on 31 drugs — in late 2017 — after the FDA came across serious manufacturing deficiencies at their plants in India. A few days ago, the FDA made it official.

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Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.